167-1) Call to Order, Roll Call and Introduction of Attendees
At 9:10 a.m., pursuant to the Call to Order of Chair Fraker, the meeting began.
Carolyn Grosboll gave the roll call.
Members present: Jill Allread, Jonathan Ellis, Guy Fraker, Lorin Nevling, Joyce O'Keefe, Victoria Ranney, Michael Schneiderman, and John Schwegman,
Members absent: Dianne Burton
Others present: Loretta Arient, Steven Byers, Judy Faulkner Dempsey, Bob Edgin, Carolyn Grosboll, Randy Heidorn, Tom Lerczak, Don McFall, Tammie McKay, Angella Moorehouse, Kelly Neal, John Nelson, Debbie Newman, Debbie Reider, Kim Roman and Mary Kay Solecki, Illinois Nature Preserves Commission (INPC); Bob Gottfried, Office of Resource Conservation (ORC), Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR); Terry Esker, Patti Malmborg, Brian Reilly, Scott Simpson, and Pam Sullivan, Division of Natural Heritage, IDNR; Carl Becker, Office of Realty and Environmental Planning (OREP), IDNR; Rick Pietruszka and Keith Shank, Division of Natural Resource Review and Coordination, IDNR; Ray Eisbrener, District Wildlife Habitat Biologist, IDNR; David Niemann and George Rose, Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT); David Miller, Illinois Audubon Society; Ken Fiske, INPC Consultant; John Clemetsen and Darlene Fiske, Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board; Lenore Beyer-Clow, Nancy Eillison, and Craig Hubert, McHenry County Conservation District (MCCD); Rita Aken and Kirk Reimer, Crystal Lake Park District; Bruce Boyd, Illinois State Director of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and INPC Consultant; Jo Jo Gehl, TNC; Valerie Spale, Save the Prairie Society and INPC Consultant; James Anderson, Lake County Forest Preserve District (LCFPD); Day Waterman, Fox Valley Land Foundation; George Johnson, Illinois Native Plant Society; Al Wilson, Volunteer Steward at Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve; Katharine Barnes, representing the Addition to Elizabeth Lake Nature Preserve; Don Brothers, Nancy Brothers, and Kurt Carlson representing the Brandenburg Lake Island Addition of Buffer to Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve; Carol O'Donnell, representing the Carol and Lydia & Tom and Brandon Addition to Boone Creek Fen Nature Preserve; Jewel Hahn and Julene Perbohner, representing Julia M. & Royce L. Parker Fen Nature Preserve; Roger Beadles, representing Beadles Barrens Nature Preserve; Jean Guarino and Victor Guarino, representing Thatcher Woods Savanna Restoration Project; Marni Pyke, The Northwest Herald; Ed Martin, Rita Martin, and Martha Schwegman.
Chair Fraker thanked Rita Aken, Manager of Natural Resources and Interpretative Services for the Crystal Lake Park District, for her assistance in arranging this meeting. Chair Fraker also thanked Kirk Reimer, Executive Director of the Crystal Lake Park District for hosting the Commission meeting.
Kirk Reimer welcomed everyone to the Crystal Lake Park District facility. He stated that the Park District owns two nature preserves, Wingate Prairie Nature Preserve and Sterne's Fen Nature Preserve. He stated that the Commission is a great help to the Park District, and he thanked the Commission for their assistance.
Kirk Reimer also stated that Rita Aken has been with the Crystal Lake Park District for approximately two years and that she has done an outstanding job establishing the Nature Center. Prior to Rita's employment with the Park District, the building was used as a preschool. He complimented Rita on her outstanding job with the displays, and stated that the public enjoys the Nature Center.
Chair Fraker mentioned how much he has enjoyed his time spent touring the different natural areas in McHenry County. He encouraged the Crystal Lake Park District to continue its efforts in preserving the natural areas.
Chair Fraker stated that the INPC is able to protect land because of the generosity of private owners who care enough to donate their land for preservation without the State having to buy it. At the Commission's 166th Meeting, which was held on February 1, 2000, at the Illinois State Library in Springfield, there were four areas dedicated as nature preserves, all of which were privately owned. The total acreage of these four tracts is 192 acres. Each of the four tracts are in different counties: Cook County, Clark County, Edwards County, and Monroe County. Because of their location, the value of those tracts is approximately $1,250,000. Dedication provides permanent protection of valuable natural areas with no money expended other than the salaries of the INPC's talented staff putting the dedications together. The number of nature preserves in the State now totals 294 in 77 counties. The total nature preserve acreage is over 39,000 acres. In addition, there are 40 land and water reserves in 29 counties which total approximately 17,000 acres.
167-2) Adoption of Agenda
Carolyn Grosboll stated that Items 9 and 10 will be presented together, but they will be acted upon separately.
It was moved by O'Keefe, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the Agenda be adopted with that caveat.
167-3) Approval of Minutes of Special Meeting, January 31, 2000, and Approval of Minutes of 166th Meeting, February 1, 2000
It was moved by Allread, seconded by Ellis and carried that the Minutes of the Special Meeting, January 31, 2000, and the Minutes of the 166th INPC Meeting, February 1, 2000, be approved.
167-4) Next Meeting Schedule1 August, 2000 - Lexington Community Center, Lexington
167-5) Natural Areas Acquisition Fund Fiscal Year 2001 Land Acquisition Proposals
Chair Fraker stated that the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund (NAAF) is funded by money generated from the real estate transfer tax. A portion of that special fund is for land acquisition. The INPC is the advisory board to the IDNR on the selection of sites upon which that money is to be spent.
Brian Reilly reported that this is the second year that the natural areas acquisition list has been presented to the Commission. Several of the tracts recommended last year have been acquired. Several are still in the process of being acquired. This process includes landowner contact, negotiating the sale price, and waiting for the closing date to occur.
For fiscal year (FY) 2001, which begins July 1, 2000, $5 million has been appropriated. The natural areas acquisition list of proposed tracts presented to the Commission totals slightly over $8 million. The list is longer because the land is purchased on a willing seller basis. A proposed property may not be available because a willing seller decides not to sell, a sale price cannot be agreed upon, or perhaps the property is already sold. Not all the property on this list can be acquired.
Brian stated that the FY 2001 list includes 37 tracts of land within 22 natural areas. All of these sites are in Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI) sites or buffer INAI sites. The total cost of land proposed to be acquired is $8,127,000. In addition, there are expenses that have to be paid such as closing costs and appraisal expenses. The total cost of the proposed list that is being presented today is $9 million dollars. However, there is only $5 million to spend. He stated that the list of properties will be narrowed down and prioritized after the list is approved. The list of properties included in the Agenda packet are not prioritized. The sites will be prioritized on a willing seller basis. The properties for consideration include:
1) Additions to land currently owned by the IDNR at Apple River Canyon, in JoDaviess County. There is a high-quality stream and several endangered species within Apple River Canyon.
2) Black-Crown Marsh State Natural Area on the border of McHenry County and Lake County. Black-Crown Marsh has eight endangered and threatened bird species nesting there and includes a significant wetland. The IDNR currently owns 160 acres of the entire Black-Crown Marsh natural area.
3) Additions to the Lower Fox River - Blake's Landing Nature Preserve, in LaSalle County. The Commission approved dedication of this 17-acre nature preserve at its 164th Meeting on August 3, 1999. Twelve acres were recently donated to the State by the Conservation Foundation. IDNR is looking at the possibility of acquiring more property to complete the preserve design within that part of LaSalle County on the lower Fox River.
4) More acquisitions are being proposed at the Cache River State Natural Area in Johnson and Pulaski counties. The Cache River is a wonderful area that the Commission has visited in the past. This is a joint project with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and TNC.
5) Additions to Cedar/Draper's Bluff Land and Water Reserve, in Johnson County. Cedar Bluff Cave adjoins that land and water reserve. IDNR would like to acquire property at the cave near Ferne Clyffe State Park.
6) Additions to Chauncy Marsh Nature Preserve, in Lawrence County. Chauncy Marsh is a nice marsh surrounded by mesic prairie, bottomland forest, and riverine natural communities.
7) Cypress Pond Natural Area is a 477-acre swamp in Johnson and Union counties. It is one of the largest depressional ponds in the area, and it is a cypress-tupelo swamp.
8) Deer Pond Natural Area, in Johnson County, near the Cypress Pond Natural Area. Deer Pond is a cypress-tupelo swamp and bottomland forest which provides habitat for the yellow-crowned night heron.
9) Fults Hill Prairie, in Monroe County, one of the largest hill prairies in the State.
10) Additions to Geissler Savanna, in Hancock County. This tract is currently in CRP and is located north of the land currently owned by IDNR. This particular landowner has offered his land to the State.
11) An addition of land above Guthrie Cave, in Union County. This parcel would protect the cave's ecosystem.
12) Hanover Bluff, a large hill prairie in JoDaviess County overlooking the Savanna Army Depot.
13) Harlem Hills Nature Preserve, in Winnebago County, situated in Loves Park near Rockford. This is one of the best examples of a dry-mesic gravel hill prairie. This land may be donated to the State.
14) Grants have been written to purchase two tracts of land at Long Run Seep Nature Preserve in Will County. The proposed amount of NAAF dollars would provide match to those grants.
15) Additions to Matthiessen State Park, in LaSalle County, on the Vermilion River, near Starved Rock State Park. The property is split by the Vermilion River and the beautiful bluffs and forest.
16) Property included in a newly created preserve design to connect McClure Shale Glade Nature Preserve and Berryville Shale Glade Nature Preserve in Union County.
17) Mineral Marsh Nature Preserve, in Henry County, a complex of wetlands, sand prairie, and sand dunes where the Illinois mud turtle breeds. Acquiring this property would help preserve one of the largest breeding grounds of the mud turtle.
18) Pecumsaugan Creek/Blackball Mine Nature Preserve is 205 acres in LaSalle County. The proposed acquisition would be to acquire an inholding that slips into the middle of the nature preserve. There is also land above the mine that would be protected from disturbances. The mine is the largest Indiana bat hibernacula in the State.
19) Prairie Ridge State Natural Area, in Marion and Jasper counties, a large grassland habitat that has several threatened and endangered species, including the greater prairie chicken. Acquisition of property in this area from TNC is proposed, along with some other tracts, to expand the prairie ecosystem and provide more habitat. TNC and the Illinois Audubon Society have been partners since the beginning of the Prairie Ridge project.
20) Redwing Slough State Natural Area, in Lake County, a large wetland complex that has six species of endangered birds. There are only a few more acquisitions needed to complete the preserve design.
21) Sand Ridge Mud Turtle Site, in Mason County, includes wetlands and sand ponds with adjacent sand dunes which provide breeding habitat for the Illinois mud turtle. Acquiring this property would preserve and provide more habitat for the endangered mud turtle.
22) Land to buffer the Upper Embarras River Woods Nature Preserve, in Douglas County, provides more bottomland forest habitat.
23) Water Works Hill Prairie, in Coles County, a glacial drift hill prairie. This is a gap site which means that no example of this type of community is preserved within this natural division. It is a goal that the best examples of every natural community be acquired. By acquiring this site, IDNR would have at least one of these glacial drift hill prairies within that natural division.
Commissioner Schwegman asked which tract was being referred to when Brian mentioned acquisitions at Chauncy Marsh. He asked if the tract included the ditch that was draining the area.
Brian stated that there are currently three acquisitions ongoing at Chauncy Marsh and two more tracts are targeted. He did not know if the ditch was included.
Terry Esker stated that the proposed acquisition is a 40-acre tract to the east of the marsh where the drainage ditch was dug through it in the early 1980's.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated that she found it difficult to ascertain the degree of commitment that the IDNR had to any of the individual acquisition sites. She was particularly concerned about the sites in northeast Illinois. She stated that if there is not a strong commitment to the preservation and the acquisition of those sites, the opportunity will be lost because the sites will be gone. There are 37 tracts of land within 22 natural areas, which seems like there are about one and one-half parcels to go around, on average, that IDNR is interested in. She expressed concern that at that rate, northeastern Illinois will not get its share given the demands on the land. She wanted to take a specific case to get some sense of where the Commission was going and what the Commission was prepared to do with this fund. For example, Black-Crown Marsh was on the acquisition list last year. She asked how many parcels IDNR was planning on adding. She also asked what IDNR did last year on the Black-Crown Marsh acquisition. She wanted to know the answer to these questions as well as what IDNR was prepared to do in the coming year at that particular site.
Brian Reilly stated that the Department is concerned and committed to preserving all the natural areas throughout the State. The proposed list was created with the understanding that not every parcel on the list may be acquired. For example, Water Works Hill Prairie is owned by one person. If that person chooses not to sell that property, then IDNR has to use the money for that site to acquire another natural area. Last year at Black-Crown Marsh, IDNR proposed to acquire 80 acres from the Illinois Audubon Society that they pre-acquired for the Department. IDNR did acquire that property. IDNR would like to expand the acquisitions to add on to the parcels that the IDNR purchased last year. The prioritization of the list is based on several things such as is the land for sale, the threat of the property being developed or purchased by someone else, and partners. There are several partners for Black-Crown Marsh, which include the Illinois Audubon Society and CorLands. If IDNR can use grant money to make the NAAF to go further, we will use that to prioritize the acquisitions as well. There are several things in place to make Black-Crown Marsh a high priority acquisition area.
Commissioner O'Keefe asked Brian how much acreage the Department may be looking at purchasing at Black-Crown Marsh.
Brian said the Department is hoping to add over 100 acres at Black-Crown Marsh.
Commissioner O'Keefe asked if this land became available today, would the Department be able to go out tomorrow and purchase it.
Brian stated that hopefully IDNR would be able to go out today and buy it.
Commissioner O'Keefe asked about Redwing Slough and what was done at that site last year.
Brian stated that the two acquisitions at Redwing Slough failed last year. The primary reason was the land was for sale, and someone bought it from underneath the IDNR. When the acquisition agent from IDNR contacted the landowner, the new owner had already put a driveway on the property and was building a house. The parcels at Redwing Slough are under the threat of development. The IDNR is competing with developers, and that raises the price. The IDNR is very committed to preserving Redwing Slough, and it will continue to acquire tracts of land there. IDNR needs the wetlands and the uplands that buffer and drain into the wetlands.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated that a matching grant is proposed for Long Run Seep Nature Preserve is in northeastern Illinois. This is the only site on the list that has a limit in the proposal which stated "a sum of money not to exceed $50,000." She felt that was a very small amount. It was her understanding that the grant programs are generally requiring a 50-50 match. She wanted to know if it was possible, since none of the other sites have a limit on the expenditure, to delete this phrase on the assumption that a larger match to get the grant may be needed.
Brian stated that it would be reasonable to delete the phase limiting the expenditure to $50,000.
Commissioner O'Keefe noted that Commonwealth Edison (Com-Ed) owns a lot of property around Goose Lake Prairie Nature Preserve. Openlands Project was looking at this property as land that the State should preserve. She wanted to know if land that Com-Ed may be divesting itself of for some reason did not make it to this acquisition list.
Brian stated that it is his understanding that people within the IDNR are talking with Com-Ed and are trying to determine which property will be for sale. The IDNR is interested in acquiring those properties, but he was not sure whether the money will come out of the NAAF or another fund. If that property was to come up for sale, it would become a priority to acquire it because of the location of Goose Lake Prairie Nature Preserve and the Com-Ed Prairie. If that were the case, a change in the list would be made to add the site to the list. The Commission has authorized its Director to review and approve any changes to the list. IDNR would go through that process in order to acquire property on the list.
Commissioner Nevling stated that he would really like to encourage the IDNR to make the greatest effort possible at Apple River Canyon. Everything else that is on the list has incredibly important features primarily because there were glaciers that came through the area. Apple River Canyon is important precisely because the glacier never got there, and that makes Apple River Canyon unique. He urged the IDNR to make its greatest possible effort to acquire land in this area.
Brian stated that he agreed with this, and IDNR will continue its efforts in the Apple River Canyon area.
Commissioner Schwegman stated that he would second that effort.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked how many of the properties on the list were already owned by a public body or by some organization or individual who is already committed its preservation.
Brian stated that the only ones were at Prairie Ridge State Natural Area.
Commissioner Schneiderman stated one of the listed criteria for high priority was risk to the area. He wanted to know the risk to the properties at Prairie Ridge if these funds are not spent to acquire them.
Brian stated that TNC and the Illinois Audubon Society are private landowners. Their mission is to preserve natural areas and preserve land, but they are still private landowners. IDNR has partnered with both of these organizations in the past to pre-acquire property for the IDNR. The acquisitions at the Prairie Ridge State Natural Area were intended to be pre-acquisitions. The Illinois Audubon Society received a grant to purchase the site. The IDNR was not eligible to receive the grant. The Illinois Audubon Society bought the property using the grant which covered 50% of the acquisition cost. IDNR will then buy the property from the Illinois Audubon Society at their expense of 50% of the cost. This allows the IDNR to purchase the property at a lower price. Those are the reasons to acquire the Illinois Audubon Society's property.
Brian stated that TNC has been a long time partner at Prairie Ridge, but they have decided to get out of the prairie chicken business. They would like to sell their property to the IDNR so they can acquire other properties within Illinois. The purchase price of this property is approximately half of the current market value because they are selling it to the IDNR at a reduced rate. The IDNR has been managing the property for TNC for several years. This land provides excellent habitat for the endangered or threatened birds that are there.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if all the natural areas acquisition money was used last year.
Brian stated that all of the acquisition money from last year is currently committed. Some projects are still ongoing.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if IDNR ran out of money before it ran out of projects.
Brian stated that this was the case.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if any of the properties on last year's IDNR acquisition list were on this year's list.
Brian stated, "no."
Commissioner Schneiderman asked what happened to the properties that were on IDNR's list last year, but were not purchased by IDNR because there were not enough funds.
Brian stated that last year there was only $3.8 million to spend for land acquisition. IDNR presented $3.8 million worth of property to the Commission. Projects that are currently ongoing are part of that $3.8 million. IDNR added additional natural areas in order to use the money that was allocated to projects that fell through, like the property at Redwing Slough where the landowner decided not to sell to IDNR. Before adding properties to the list, the IDNR sought approval from the INPC Director as authorized by Commission resolution.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if the chances this year were better that IDNR will run out of money before it runs out of projects on the list.
Brian stated that IDNR always has more land to buy than it has money to spend.
Commissioner Schneiderman stated that last year IDNR essentially reached an equilibrium. It had enough money to buy everything that it wanted to and could buy off the list. This year, in order to protect against the possibility of a short-fall of projects, IDNR has over budgeted. That suggests that there may be projects on this list that will not be able to be acquired, even though they are available, because IDNR has over budgeted. It seemed to him that this raises a question of priorities. The IDNR should be concentrating their funds on those properties, which will be lost if IDNR does not buy them, as opposed to those properties which if IDNR does not buy them, will not be lost, as is the case with Prairie Ridge.
Brian stated that he agreed with Commissioner Schneiderman.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated that she went down that same path earlier and did not pursue it. She generally said the same thing. We need to acquire those properties that are not going to be available next year. We need to get them this year, and we need to be sure we have them. She stated that, although she is not with TNC or Illinois Audubon, she is quite familiar with how those organizations work and how CorLands works. It may be that IDNR has really arrived at a legal agreement, and there is no choice but to move ahead with TNC's purchase. If this is the deal, IDNR will have to proceed.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if there is such an agreement in place. If so, is INPC's approval of a list meaningless.
Brian stated that this was not the case. If the list is not approved by the Commission, he would go back to TNC and the Illinois Audubon Society and inform them that the INPC did not approve that acquisition.
Chair Fraker stated that he would abstain from voting on the IDNR acquisition list since it involves TNC land. Also, in the discussions regarding Prairie Ridge, Brian stated that TNC made the commitment to use the money that comes from that sale to do further pre-acquisitions for the Department. TNC wants that money spent in Illinois.
Commissioner Nevling stated that he is also abstaining from voting on this issue.
Chair Fraker stated that he is a former board member of TNC and now an employee of TNC. Lorin Nevling is on the Board of Trustees of the Illinois Chapter of TNC.
It was moved by O'Keefe, seconded by Allread, and carried, with Fraker and Nevling abstaining, that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission approves the fiscal year 2001 Natural Areas Acquisition Fund land acquisition list as presented under Item 5 of the Agenda and as amended to delete the limitation on the sum of money to be spent at Long Run Seep.
Chair Fraker thanked Brian for his presentation.
167-6) INPC Staff Report
Carolyn Grosboll stated that the Commissioners received in their Agenda packets several newspaper articles related to a proposed magnet school adjacent to Wolf Road Prairie Nature Preserve. The school is being proposed on a tract of land that is located immediately adjacent to the Nature Preserve on what is now 12 five-acre homesites called Hickory Lane Estates. Save the Prairie Society has been working over the years with the Forest Preserve District of Cook County (FPDCC) and the IDNR to purchase those parcels as they become available.
The newspaper reports indicate that the Proviso School District is considering condemning ten of the lots in the area which total approximately 50 acres. Even though they need less than 50 acres to build the school, they must acquire all of the lots because there are deed restrictions on the lots that say that the land can only be used for single family homes and residential garden farming. Half of one of the lots is now owned by the FPDCC and has been dedicated as an addition to Wolf Road Prairie Nature Preserve. Save the Prairie Society is purchasing another one of the lots, and it has received preliminary approval for dedication as an addition to the Nature Preserve. The parcel owned by the FPDCC cannot be condemned because it is owned by another local unit of government.
Commission staff have been tracking this issue and have been coordinating efforts with IDNR. The IDNR has been in contact with the School District and has begun discussions on possible ways to lessen the impact to the prairie or to look at other options to protect the prairie. There is going to be a meeting with all interested parties in the near future to begin discussing the details of how that might occur. Commission staff will be involved in that meeting.
Carolyn stated that Valerie Spale, Save the Prairie Society, former INPC Chair, and consultant to the Commission is here today. She would like to update the Commission on this topic.
Valerie Spale gave each Commissioner a fact sheet regarding Wolf Road Prairie and Hickory Lane. She also provided an aerial photo for the Commissioners to review. She stated that she was fortunate to get a pilot to voluntarily fly over and take an aerial photo of the site during the dormant season. The area that is threatened is immediately west and upstream of Wolf Road Prairie Nature Preserve and is known as Hickory Lane Estates. The map also shows the ecological features of Hickory Lane Estates and where both Save the Prairie Society's and the FPDCC's property is.
She stated that there is a hearing this evening (5/2/00) before the Westchester Planning Commission regarding a proposal on one of the five-acre lots that is not included in the School District's acquisition plan. This site is being proposed for four, three-story, 128-unit buildings for senior housing which will involve the loss of many old oak trees on the property that are part of the historic northeastern Illinois black soil savanna. She said that she will be at the meeting to oppose that development based on the fact that it violates the restrictive covenants. Save the Prairie Society will also be represented by its attorney. She felt that there would be other groups at this meeting to speak out against that plan because of the significance of Hickory Lane's important ecosystem that partners with Wolf Road Prairie Nature Preserve. This area has been in five-acre homes sites since the late 1940's.
The FPDCC identified Hickory Lane as an area of opportunity in their land acquisition plan in 1994. Due to their financial circumstances, they have not been able to step in and do the job that needs to be done which is to acquire land as it becomes available and to preserve and restore it for open space. There are 3-4 very upscale and expensive homes on the properties. The remainder of the homes have been there since the late 1940's or early 1950's. These older homes could be torn down for either redevelopment or restoration. This is an ideal opportunity to acquire and preserve this land and add open space to Cook County. This site is the last sizeable property with ecological potential left in west central Cook County and eastern DuPage County, as the county lines are approximately a half-minute apart. She wanted to bring the Commission up-to-date on these circumstances which will have very adverse impacts on Wolf Road Prairie Nature Preserve. She said that there has not been a prescribed burn at Wolf Road Prairie Nature Preserve for several years because of the constraints of being hemmed in by development. If the western border, which is the only real open area that is not dividing the prairie by development or roads, is developed, there will be more management constraints.
Valerie stated that she was hoping the Commission would support preservation, intervention, and negotiations to try to protect as much land and ecosystem features as possible by sending support letters to the IDNR, John Stroger, President of the FPDCC; and the Commissioners of the FPDCC. She felt that this would be very helpful in providing the kind of negotiations and partnership that would help to do whatever is necessary at this site to save as much open land as possible.
Commissioner O'Keefe asked Valerie to clarify what she was asking the Commission to do.
Valerie stated that a support letter to IDNR would be helpful, however, the Commission may already be coordinating efforts in this regard. A support letter to John Stroger and the Commissioners of the FPDCC would also be very helpful.
Carolyn Grosboll stated that she agreed with Valerie in that Hickory Lane is a very important parcel to the Commission and the State of Illinois. She felt the Commission should continue to be closely involved with defending Wolf Road Prairie from these threats.
Valerie stated that the five acres that Save the Prairie Society owns on Hickory Lane has received state and federal grants for restoration, including some dollars through the Wetlands Restoration Fund, CorLands, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. There has been a lot of work done on the five acres, and they are seeing dramatic recovery on the property that was, until just a few years ago, maintained as an estate with mowed grass. There are several species coming back on their own, proving that this site has a lot of potential for restoration and recovery.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated that there are two different kinds of threats for this area. The Commission would strongly support the efforts for Carolyn Grosboll and the staff to negotiate with the School District and to work with them on site design to minimize any impact from the development that might take place. Even if that School District proposal does or does not go through, there is still a threat from private development within that site. That will only be solved with acquisition on the part of the FPDCC and possible joint action with IDNR.
Valerie stated that was correct. The site has been sought after for development for approximately 15 years. Her fear was that if the one parcel becomes developed for high-density use then the restrictive covenants will be deemed ineffective, and they will lose the opportunity to defend the rest of the property based on the restrictive covenants. It is a very complex issue. She did not know if the school is actually going to be built because there is some objection to a third school by the parents in Proviso Township. It is very essential to defend the covenants, and it would help greatly if there was funding available to acquire land in this area which are the hot spot properties to maintain the area as much as possible.
Keith Shank, Endangered Species Consultation Program, IDNR, stated that he would like to inform the Commission that the Village of Westchester has an extremely poor record of engaging in the consultation process that is required by Section 17 of the Illinois Natural Areas Preservation Act and Section II of the Endangered Species Protection Act. He stated that he was not aware of the senior citizen housing proposal, meaning that the Village of Westchester has not initiated the consultation process as required on this particular proposal. It is incumbent upon the Planning Commission of the Village of Westchester to engage in the consultation process before they make a recommendation to the Village Board. Since there is a pattern that the Village of Westchester does not engage in the consultation process, he would, on behalf of the Department, admonish the Village of Westchester to engage in the consultation process on this project. He stated that it would be helpful if the Commission would also admonish the Village and remind them of their obligation to consult with the Department when they are initially considering any development proposals in the vicinity of Wolf Road Prairie Nature Preserve.
Commissioner Ranney asked Valerie to review the land ownership and the total acreage of Hickory Lane Estates.
Valerie stated that the total acreage of Hickory Lane Estates is 60 acres. It was subdivided in the late 1940's into 12 five-acre parcels. Several of the owners that are there today have been there for decades. It is a neighborhood that has been stable over the years. It is a very beautiful area that survived the sprawl that has encroached from all sides. There are also several residents that would like to continue to live there, and they are alarmed by the School District's ability to condemn their property or to extinguish the covenants on the deeds which would open the property for a developer to come in and propose projects. As Keith had mentioned, the Village has not been sensitive towards natural areas preservation or open space.
It was moved by O'Keefe, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission endorses the efforts of staff to work with the IDNR and the Proviso School District to ensure the proposed development of that property as a school is as sensitive as possible to Wolf Road Prairie Nature Preserve. The Commission further directs staff to send a letter to the Village of Westchester alerting them of the requirement of local units of government to consult with the IDNR whenever any proposal in the Wolf Road Prairie Nature Preserve area comes before them and to also send a letter to President John Stroger and the Commissioners of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County urging them to acquire property in the area of Wolf Road Prairie to ensure protection of the area and to offer the Commission's support for the protection of the prairie.
Chair Fraker thanked Valerie for her diligence over the years and in particular this latest issue.
Valerie thanked the Commission for their support.
Carolyn Grosboll updated the Commission on potential threats to Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve. The Commissioners and staff had an opportunity to tour Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve on Monday, May 1, 2000. She thanked Mr. and Mrs. Al Wilson for their time in leading the tour.
Carolyn reported that Material Service Corporation (MSC) has not resumed mining adjacent to Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve. The Commission is continuing to monitor negotiations that are ongoing between the IDNR and MSC regarding the possible acquisition of the unmined land owned by MSC which is approximately 39 acres. IDNR is doing a wonderful job and is is putting an all out effort into these negotiations.
There is another project which is currently in consultation with the IDNR regarding a proposed Village Hall on the west side of Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve. The Commission is monitoring this project as well. A Special Use Permit was issued by the Commission last month to allow the Village's consultants to install monitoring wells to determine the groundwater flow coming off the hillside where the proposed Village Hall is to be located. This information will help determine whether there will be negative impacts to the Fen. We will also look at the building design plans as they become available.
Carolyn updated the Commission on the Shawnee natural areas. All 80 of the natural areas on the Shawnee Natural Forest were ordered closed to everything but foot traffic last fall. We were very pleased with that closure order. Forty-four of the 80 areas have had their boundaries painted and posted. The remaining areas will be posted based upon priority. There are only two remaining natural areas that are still receiving heavy use, and those are Double Branch Hole and Jackson Hollow. Double Branch Hole is the next area where the Forest Service will post boundary signs. A lot of the preliminary work has been done at Double Branch Hole, so the work should go fairly quickly. There is a conflict with a railroad company regarding a boundary at Jackson Hollow, so there could be more work involved before that area can be completely closed and signed. Bob Edgin and Tom Lerczak have been working with the Forest Service and IDNR staff helping to mark the boundaries. Carolyn stated that the Commission appreciates their efforts.
Carolyn stated that the Chief of the Natural History Survey and the Director of the Illinois State Museum, per statute, have made recommendations to the Governor regarding potential Commissioners to fill the expiring terms of Commissioners Ranney, Schneiderman, and Fraker. Four names were submitted to fill these three terms which are set to expire on June 30, 2000. Carolyn stated that she would keep the Commissioners advised as that process proceeds. Even though a term expires, the current Commissioners continue to serve until they are replaced.
Carolyn stated that the General Assembly adjourned on April 15, 2000. The State's budget was passed before the Legislators left Springfield. The Governor has not signed the budget as of this date, but he is expected to sign it in the near future. The Commission's appropriation for FY 2001 is $1,029,400. Last year the Commission's budget was $929,000. This is a 10.8% increase. Brian Reilly, will provide an overview of the appropriation for land acquisition and stewardship in the IDNR's Staff Report.
Commissioner Schneiderman noted that the Commission received a substantial increase in its budget. He asked if there was a special item in the budget that caused the increase, such as a staff increase.
Carolyn stated that the increase is primarily due to an increase in health and other fringe benefits that the State is required to pay.
Don McFall stated that Steven Byers represented the Commission at Lt. Governor Wood's April 26 announcement in Elgin of the details of the $2.5 billion Illinois River 2020 program. Lt. Governor Wood was joined by the directors of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), Illinois Department of Agriculture, and IDNR's Deputy Director Garner. Illinois River 2020 is a proposal to commit federal and state dollars over 20 years to improve water quality, protect open space and provide best management practices for stormwater and drainage in new developments. The potential benefit to a dedicated nature preserve is enormous, especially for the wetland preserves. Steven Byers led Lt. Governor Wood on a tour through Trout Park Nature Preserve in Elgin where he was able to discuss the INPC, the importance of nature preserves, and the threats to them, as well as the role of volunteers in protecting and managing nature preserves.
Steven Byers was successful in obtaining $52,000 in funds for stewardship of Santa Fe Prairie Nature Preserve in Cook County. The CorLands Wetlands Restoration Fund grant was made to the owner of the preserve, the I and M Canal National Heritage Corridor Civic Center Authority, for ecological restoration and hydrological monitoring of the nature preserve.
Angella Moorehouse represented the Commission at the west-central Illinois stop for State Comptroller Dan Hynes statewide public meetings concerning cemetery care. This is a concern to the Commission because there are approximately 15 dedicated cemetery prairies and cemetery savannas. The Commission's effort is to show how protection and management of the native vegetation and endangered species in the cemetery prairie preserves can be compatible to the protection of graves and the genealogical and historic interest in the cemeteries. Angella gave a tour of Byler Cemetery Savanna Nature Preserve, in Adams County, to Comptroller Hynes, State Representatives, the Mayor of Quincy, the media, and those who have relatives buried at Byler Cemetery. Angella was able to talk about the ecological importance of the cemetery nature preserves and to demonstrate that protecting and managing prairie and savanna natural communities can be compatible with care and maintenance of old cemeteries.
In southern Illinois, Judy Faulkner Dempsey met with Forrest Starkey, the new Forest Supervisor of the Shawnee National Forest, to acquaint him with the nature preserves system and to continue our partnership with the Shawnee National Forest.
Springfield and field staff reviewed the first draft of a proposed administrative rule governing the INAI. The INAI is a list of the largest, least altered, most significant natural communities in Illinois, endangered species occurrences, high quality streams, and other ecological features of statewide significance together with the scientific documentation, obtained by site visits, that qualifies each area. The database was initially assembled in the mid 1970's, is maintained by the IDNR, and is updated once a year. There are approximately 1200 areas on the INAI, located in 100 of Illinois' 102 counties. The INAI is the scientific basis of the Commission's system of nature preserves. The other component is the natural divisions of Illinois. The INAI is the basis of IDNR's natural areas acquisition, the State natural areas system, protection and stewardship, and is one of the most used inventories for numerous regional, county and local efforts to protect native lands and wildlife in Illinois. The INAI is the database Commission staff use to identify the sites where landowner contact is needed. When first established in the mid 1970's, the INAI was strictly a scientific inventory, but now it has a quasi regulatory component in the IDNR's consultation program. In light of this component, the increased use of the INAI, along with the need to clearly define standards for adding areas to and deleting areas from the INAI, the IDNR is putting the INAI into formal administrative rule. Patti Malmborg is coordinating the drafting of the rule. Commission staff have been involved in this process.
Commissioner Ranney asked if the INAI was available in paper form only, or is it available electronically.
Don stated that Jack White, who conducted the INAI from 1975 to 1978, produced a paper technical manual for how the INAI was conducted and what the criteria were for accepting areas under the Inventory. With very few changes, that is what has been used for the last 22 years. It is available, but the administrative rule will formalize the manual.
Commissioner O'Keefe asked what the status was of the Vegetation Management Guidelines revisions. She was unable to determine from the Minutes of INPC's 166th Meeting what the resolution of the discussion actually was in terms of how the staff were going to seek comments. She wanted to know if anything else has been done on this issue.
Carolyn Grosboll stated that nothing further has been done at this time. It was decided to use the current consultant list as reviewers, along with a few other people, which would form an ad-hoc committee. Each person would separately review only those parts of their particular interest and expertise.
Randy Heidorn added that the internal review process is still ongoing.
Randy stated that at INPC's 166th Meeting, he advised the Commission about a voluntary cleanup of an industrial property adjacent to Wingate Prairie Nature Preserve, and near Sterne's Fen Nature Preserve. He stated that he is pleased to report that he has been in contact with the IEPA on this topic. The IEPA and the company's consultant have been helpful. They have provided him with all the preliminary documentation. They have continued to work with the Commission to ensure that many of our concerns are met. The issue of not getting the necessary information from IEPA has turned around, and he felt the Commission's resolution helped in this effort.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if this was an informal solution between individuals or was there something being done at the Department level to give it a little more sticking power.
Randy stated that it is more of an informal type of arrangement, but a meeting has been scheduled with them and communication has been good. There is another effort between the IDNR, INPC, and IEPA to resolve the larger information sharing issue. The big issue is moving forward, along with this one.
Randy stated that he and Kelly Neal, along with IDNR staff, made a site visit this spring to Piney Creek Ravine Nature Preserve to inspect some trail erosion issues and to address ways to improve the protection of petroglyphs that are at this site. Several potential solutions were reviewed which include both the repair of the erosion and the moving of a portion of the trail to avoid some of the more difficult terrain. The IDNR's trail program manager is developing a plan which will be reviewed by all the parties.
In the FY 2000 IDNR budget, there was a half- million dollar addition to develop an invasive and exotic species control program. Of that, a quarter of a million dollars was used to control Asian long-horned beatles in the Chicago area and to provide money for restoration of some of the areas impacted by the beatle. The remainder of the appropriation is being used on various IDNR projects, including education programs on invasive and exotic species, distribution and production of purple loosestrife biological control agents, development of a garlic mustard biological control agent, and a program targeting the eradication of kudzu within Illinois. One of the key parts of this program was that some of the money was used for on-the-ground projects, essentially stewardship-type projects for controlling exotics at several nature preserves and land and water reserves. This is a new source of money that staff have been able to use for management of nature preserves.
Randy stated that there was a busy prescribed burning season this year. The staff of the INPC lead or participated in 33 prescribed burns at nature preserves and natural heritage landmarks. A total of 2,100 acres were burned, including 33 prairies, woodlands, fens, and savannas.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if there any other alternative management techniques that would be useful in an area like Wolf Road Prairie Nature Preserve where a prescribed burn is restricted.
Randy stated that at Wolf Road Prairie Nature Preserve, mowing has been used with application of herbicides to control some of the exotic species. In an area that size, a prescribed burn could be conducted in a way to reduce emissions. There are various techniques to implement that type of burn. In the long term, implementing those types of techniques are key. A certain level of cooperation with the community is needed because weather and related issues are critical. It becomes more difficult as development continues around the nature preserve.
167-7) IDNR Staff Report
Brian Reilly extended Todd Strole's regrets on not being able to attend the 167th Meeting of the INPC.
Brian stated that Amy Horstman, District Heritage Biologist for IDNR in Lake County, resigned to accept a job in Oregon. Amy did good work protecting and managing natural areas and nature preserves in Lake County. She will be greatly missed.
The IDNR's FY 2001 budget had been approved. The Division of Natural Heritage's budget was approved as submitted with an addition of $465,000 from the General Revenue Fund (GRF) for boundary surveys and fencing for natures preserves owned by the IDNR.
The land acquisition component to the NAAF received an appropriation of $5 million for FY 2001. This is an increase of $1.2 million over last year's appropriation. This $5 million for land acquisition represents 52.5% of the entire appropriation of the NAAF money. The NAAF stewardship funds for FY 2001 were approved at $369,000.
Commissioner Ellis asked what percentage of the NAAF was approved for land acquisition last year.
Carolyn Grosboll stated it was 48%. The goal that was identified two years ago was to maintain a level above 42%.
Brian stated that there is an ecosystem management initiative underway in the Office of Resource Conservation (ORC). Todd Strole, Dave Cooper, Maggie Cole, Carolyn Grosboll, and Don McFall are participating in a planning effort to move the ORC toward implementation of an ecosystem management approach. This is a welcome change. Further details will be presented at future INPC meetings.
Recent NAAF land acquisitions occurred at Prairie Ridge State Natural Area, in Jasper and Marion counties, where two tracts were purchased totaling 152 acres. The cost of that acquisition was $387,176. One tract of 71 acres was acquired at Volo Bog State Natural Area, in Lake County, at the cost of $1.1 million.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked, in terms of absolute dollars as opposed to percentages, compared to last year, what was the amount for everything other than land acquisition that came out of the NAAF.
Brian stated that he was not able to provide that information.
Carl Becker stated that the total NAAF appropriation was $9 million versus approximately $7 million last year.
Commissioner Schneiderman stated that the land acquisition allocation was 52% of an amount which was $2 million dollars larger than last year.
Carl stated that almost all of the growth went into acquisition, less maintenance. Base maintenance on all line items, other than personal services, was approximately 3%. Some things like equipment and a few others were not increased. There was an increase in benefit costs because of health insurance changes. All the other revenue increases went into the acquisition side.
Commissioner Ellis stated that the Commission has talked about percentages in the past, and he was glad to see that the percentage is moving in the correct direction. The percentages talked about were 75-25. He wanted to know how we would move toward that goal.
Carolyn Grosboll stated that the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA), which is the federal legislation that is currently pending, is an opportunity that might provide us some relief as far as getting reimbursed for some of the work that staff is doing. That would take significant pressure off the NAAF for operations.
Carl stated that the reimbursements would be dedicated to land acquisition.
Carolyn stated that she did not see, in the near future, a major shift back onto the General Revenue Fund for operations.
Commissioner Schneiderman stated that the Commission's budget was approved as submitted by the Department. He wanted to know if the budget that was submitted was different in any material respect from the budget that the INPC wanted. He wanted to know if something happened internally to modify the Commission's request.
Carolyn stated that it was primarily identical to what was submitted last year with provisions for cost of living and medical benefit increases.
Commissioner Schneiderman stated that the informal wise-guy reaction to that is that if all the way up the line nobody took back a penny, we did not ask for enough, and we were not trying hard enough.
Carolyn stated that she was not aware if other parts of IDNR's budget were cut, but nothing was cut from the Commission's budget.
Carl stated that there are two parts to the budget process. The Bureau of the Budget (BOB) determines for all agencies of State government what their maintenance budget will be for the next year. Anything above that is considered a new initiative.
Commissioner Schneiderman stated that someone has to at least ask for a new initiative, and he wanted to know if any one asked for a new initiative.
Carolyn stated that a new initiative was requested for exotic species control.
Commissioner Schneiderman stated that he understands the process for which bright ideas that come from us can be rejected up the line, but he was curious why we did not ask for anything.
Carolyn stated that we did ask for the exotic species initiative which would have been a joint venture with the Scientific Surveys.
Randy Heidorn stated that the exotic species initiative was a $1.2 million initiative that we have been submitting for the last couple of years. One of the reasons that we probably got the exotic species add-on was because we kept pushing for that initiative.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if there was an initiative like that which we have started pushing for now so that three years from now we can say, "well we got it because we have been pushing for it for two years." He stated that he understands the State process, and he is a product of it. He said he is not a critic of it. He wanted to know if there was an institutional reason such as the IDNR Director saying there was to be no new initiatives this year.
Carolyn stated that the IDNR scrutinizes very closely which initiatives are ultimately submitted to the BOB.
Commissioner Schneiderman stated that he understands that, but it does not mean the Commission cannot ask for something that it wants even though the chances of getting it out of the internal budget management process in the Department are low.
Carolyn stated that nothing was identified to ask for other than the exotic species initiative.
Carl Becker stated that CARA is proposed federal legislation that will provide comprehensive funding for numerous environmental and conservation programs. The CARA bill in the House is House Resolution (H.R.) 701, and it has 317 co-sponsors as of today. H.R. 701 is in a position for coming for a floor vote, presuming it will be called. There are three people who control that, and they are Representative Hastert, Dick Armey, and Tom DeLay of Texas. The main focus is on these three individuals to make sure this bill comes for a vote. Representative Hastert is in Illinois, and there are a lot of people trying to persuade him. The other two are not in Illinois, but there may be someone in Illinois that may know someone in Texas that may know them. Carl asked that everyone network with the people they know. Fifteen out of the 20 Congressmen in Illinois are co-sponsors on H.R. 701, and Illinois is one of the leading states in the percentage of Congressmen in support of this legislation. We hope to have this come for a vote sometime this spring. Some other Congressmen in Illinois have indicated that the bill may come for a vote late this session. The three names mentioned are the ones that control when this comes for a vote. Carl stated that everyone's support in this effort will be greatly appreciated. The passage of this legislation means $56 million for the State of Illinois. One of the major provisions is the revitalization of the Land and Water Conservation (LAWCON) Fund. That would mean $16 million for Illinois, half of which is guaranteed to be grants to local units of governments for acquisition and development of open space. There is another provision for the urban parks initiative which is approximately $8 million. Title III of CARA, which is the Fish and Wildlife Conservation component, would go to the IDNR as a reimbursement of up to 75%. It provides an opportunity to designate funds currently used from the NAAF for operations and recover some of that money from approved CARA projects. The reimbursed money would go back into the NAAF for the purposes of land acquisition. This is a very exciting opportunity to be able to advance further land protection. With Title I, the Coastal Assistance, Illinois would receive $13 million for environmental and conservation efforts in the coastal zone of Lake Michigan. This provides great opportunities for efforts that need to be done such as beach nourishment at Illinois Beach Nature Preserve and for a number of efforts in the wetlands in the Lake County region.
Carl updated the Commission on the Open Land Trust (OLT) program. Carl distributed a handout to the Commissioners. Under the acquisition component for IDNR, one tract has been acquired which is a 1,600-acre tract at Braidwood from Commonwealth Edison. We are in the process of narrowing down the other areas for consideration. There are currently six priority projects totaling approximately 5,500 acres, each ranging from 40 acres to 2,000 acres, that have been selected for further study. Included in this are provisions for Lake in the Hills Fen acquisition. Negotiations are currently ongoing with MSC. We are also going to be looking at partnership efforts. The OLT legislation initially included non-governmental organizations being eligible for grants under the grant provision, but that was removed from the legislation because of opposition by the realtors and homebuilders. There is still a great desire to work with non-governmental organizations in protecting open space. The Department is committed to an effort to partner with non-governmental organizations and seek proposals from them. To date, three partnership proposals have been submitted. We will not be acting on those until we have completed our efforts in reviewing the OLT grant proposals.
The Department finalized the rules for the OLT grant program in February. The grant applications were sent out shortly thereafter. The applications were due April 3, 2000. Thirty-four grant applications were received requesting $31.5 million. This would be applied to the currently allocated amount of $10 million for that purpose. We are actively reviewing those projects, and the recommendations will be made to the IDNR Advisory Board with the goal to have the Governor and IDNR announce grant awards in late June or early July.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked what is the IDNR Advisory Board.
Carl stated that it is an advisory board set up by statute to advise the IDNR on a host of issues such as hunting and fishing regulations, open space land acquisition and development (OSLAD) grants, bicycle grants, OLT grants, and so on.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if there was any representation with our type of interest on that Board.
Carl stated that he was not aware of such representation at this time.
Carolyn Grosboll stated that the members of the IDNR Advisory Board are appointed by the Governor.
Carl stated that another provision in the OLT legislation authorized the IDNR to issue loans relative to protecting open space. At this point we have not developed the rules for that component because we have spent our efforts concentrating on the grant rules. We are still assessing the demand for the loans, and if there is enough demand, we will work on that rule development.
The last provision of the OLT is the community planning allowance. There was a concern, particularly among local units of government, that when the IDNR acquires land, that land is taken off of the tax roles. This provision authorizes IDNR to issue grants to local units of government for the acquisition, development, construction, reconstruction, improvement, financing, architectural planning, and installation of capital facilities. Only local units of government outside of the six collar counties are eligible for this program and only up to 70% of the purchase price. At this point, we have not had any activity in this program because we have not acquired any land outside the six collar counties.
Next year's OLT appropriation is set at $40 million.
Commissioner O'Keefe asked if the Department expects to draft any rules relating to the partnership program that is a part of the OLT Program.
Carl stated that there are no plans at this time. It is anticipated that a similar process as with the grant program will be used. Carl stated that we currently have $31.5 million requested for OLT grants, and only $10 million has been set aside for grants. There will be serious discussions as to whether to increase the grant amount above $10 million if we look at the submitted projects and find there are $20 million in grant projects. Raising the grant amount would come at the expense of the partnership side of the OLT program.
Commissioner O'Keefe asked if the organizations that have been considering submitting a partnership grant, should get those proposals in.
Carl stated that he would recommend that the proposal be sent to Director Brent Manning with a copy to him and Tom Flattery.
Commissioner O'Keefe asked when the decisions were going to be made on the grants to local governments.
Carl stated that the decisions will be made before the end of June, and that those decisions will be announced publicly.
Commissioner Nevling stated that CARA will provide a much needed inflow of cash for Illinois. He stated that Carl had indicated that the bill may be called toward the end of the session. He felt that the real point is to contact Representatives Hastert, Armey, and DeLay, either through other people or directly, to urge them to make sure that this bill is called.
167-8) Clay Co. - Padgett Brothers Sweet Gum Woods Land and Water Reserve, Registration
(Actually presented after Item 15)
Bob Edgin presented a proposal for registration of Padgett Brothers Sweet Gum Woods as a land and water reserve. The proposed 59-acre Padgett Brothers Sweet Gum Woods Land and Water Reserve is owned by Patrick and Kathy Padgett, Jeffery Padgett and Jodie Hovermale, and James and Mary Padgett. The proposed Reserve provides riparian buffer for a nearly three-quarter mile segment of the Little Wabash River, a biologically significant stream (INAI #1156). State-endangered species found in the Little Wabash River basin include the little spectacle case mussel (Villosa lienosa), purple lilliput mussel (Toxolasma lividus), pyramid pigtoe mussel (Pleurobema rubrum), and Indiana crayfish (Orconectes indianensis). State-threatened species include the spike mussel (Elliptio dilata) and the redspotted sunfish (Lepomis miniatus). Orconectes stannardi, a crayfish endemic to the Little Wabash River, and the copperbelly water snake (Nerodia erythrogaster neglecta), a candidate for listing as a federally-endangered species, are also known to inhabit these waters. The proposed Reserve is not within the boundaries established by the INAI; however, the spike mussel and Orconectes stannardi have been collected at a site approximately one mile from the proposed Reserve. The site is representative of the Bottomlands Section of the Wabash Border Natural Division. Allowable uses include hiking, nature observation and study, photography, scientific research, hunting, fishing, and timber harvesting. The landowners are retaining the mineral rights for the area. Timber harvests will be conducted in accordance with an approved forest management plan.
Bob stated that the nearest road is three-quarters of a mile to the north. The only way to reach the property is a dirt lane. There has been some oil production in the area, and there is an abandoned tank battery and an oil pumping unit on the property. The rod line and well casing is also still in place, along with a very old oil platform on the site. There were two wells that were drilled on this site. He stated that he checked the area thoroughly on three different occasions during the winter, and he was not able to find any indication of where the wells had been located. Most of the disturbance is located in a small area in the central portion of the property which is approximately 1.5 acres in size. There is an oil well that remains on the site, but it has not been used for a number of years.
Chair Fraker stated that a dedicated nature preserve is a much stronger form of protection than what is being requested here with the registration as a land and water reserve. He asked Bob to address the value of the tract in light of the relatively intense use that has been done, and the rights that are being retained by the owners.
Bob stated that the intrinsic value of this land is the buffering that it provides for the Little Wabash River drainage and the mussel bed that is immediately down stream. This tract is 59 acres in size, but it has three-quarters of a mile of river frontage. There is also an unnamed drainage that runs along the north half of the property that dumps immediately into the Little Wabash River. If this area were ever to be cleared, as most of the land around it has been, the sediment load going into the INAI recognized stream would be tremendous. The disturbances to the property, while they seem like a lot, are concentrated into a fairly small area. He recommended approval of this site for registration as a land and water reserve.
Commissioner Ellis asked if this area really qualifies because of the disturbance even though it appears to have reclaimed itself well.
Randy Heidorn stated that the main thrust of this area is the stream. The management of this site will be based on whether or not impacts within that area will protect the stream. There are ongoing uses or potential uses, particularly the forestry work, which in a nature preserve would not likely be approved, but in this situation a properly done forestry plan will allow protection of the stream.
Commissioner Schwegman stated that Beall Woods Nature Preserve, one of INPC's premier nature preserves, had an operating oil well on the property for many years.
Carolyn Grosboll stated that all registration agreements for today's land and water reserve presentations are signed and executed by the landowner as required by administrative rule.
It was moved by Ranney, seconded by O'Keefe, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval for the registration of Padgett Brothers Sweet Gum Woods in Clay County, as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 8 of the Agenda for the 167th Meeting.
167-9) Jasper and Marion Co. - Prairie Ridge State Natural Area Land and Water Reserve, Registration
(Items 9 and 10 were presented together, but voted on separately)
Scott Simpson presented a proposal for registration of Prairie Ridge State Natural Area as a land and water reserve. This proposed land and water reserve, owned by the IDNR, consists of 696.36 acres in Jasper County and 327.5 acres in Marion County (total of 1023.86 acres). This area is recognized in the INAI as Prairie Ridge - Jasper County (INAI #601) and Prairie Ridge - Marion County (INAI #754) with exceptional/significant features in Category II (Endangered and Threatened Species). The site is located in the Southern Till Plain Natural Division. The site's ecosystem based management plan provides for a rich diversity of plant and animal species occurring within its grassland/wetland habitat complex. Currently, there are 37 species of special concern that have been documented on Prairie Ridge State Natural Area (PRSNA) including 17 state-endangered, 9 state-threatened, 6 watch list species and 5 additional area sensitive species. Among these are breeding populations of 8 state-endangered and 2 state-threatened bird species, 2 state-endangered and 1 state-threatened plant species, and 2 state-threatened reptile species. Additionally, all 10 of the grassland area sensitive bird species found in Illinois have been documented at Prairie Ridge and 8 are known to breed here. PRSNA has the state's largest breeding populations of northern harriers (Circus cyaneus), short-eared owls (Asio flammeus), barn owls (Tyto alba) and prairie chickens (Tympanuchus cupido), all of which are state-endangered grassland birds. The IDNR and the INPC staff recommend registration of Prairie Ridge State Natural Area as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve.
It was moved by Schwegman, seconded by Ranney, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval of the registration of Prairie Ridge State Natural Area in Jasper and Marion counties, as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 9 of the Agenda for the 167th Meeting.
167-10) Jasper and Marion Co. - Prairie Ridge Land and Water Reserve, Registration
On behalf of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Scott Simpson presented a proposal for registration of Prairie Ridge as a land and water reserve. This proposed land and water reserve, owned by The Nature Conservancy, consists of 588.5 acres in Jasper County and 520 acres in Marion County (total of 1108.5 acres). This area is recognized in the INAI as Prairie Ridge - Jasper County (INAI #601) and Prairie Ridge - Marion County (INAI #754) with exceptional/significant features in Category II (Endangered and Threatened Species). The site is located in the Southern Till Plain Natural Division. The site's ecosystem based management plan provides for a rich diversity of plant and animal species occurring within its grassland/wetland habitat complex. Currently, there are 37 species of special concern that have been documented on Prairie Ridge including 17 state-endangered, 9 state-threatened, 6 watch list species and 5 additional area sensitive species. Among these are breeding populations of 8 state-endangered and 2 state-threatened bird species, 2 state-endangered and 1 state-threatened plant species, and 2 state-threatened reptile species. Additionally, all 10 of the grassland area sensitive bird species found in Illinois have been documented at Prairie Ridge and 8 are known to breed here. Prairie Ridge has the state's largest breeding populations of northern harriers (Circus cyaneus), short-eared owls (Asio flammeus), barn owls (Tyto alba) and prairie chickens (Tympanuchus cupido), all of which are state-endangered grassland birds. TNC and the INPC staff recommend registration of Prairie Ridge as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve.
Commissioner O'Keefe asked what the Department's ultimate goal was for these two sites. Because of the rich array of bird species, it would make sense that the entire property be dedicated as a nature preserve. At this point, with row crops, it would not qualify as a nature preserve, but it may in the future.
Scott stated that the reason the land and water reserve was sought was because that program allows much more flexibility in the site's management. The site is intensively managed for the grassland birds, including the development of wetlands and grazing. Grazing is not allowed on a nature preserve.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated that the grazing issue is an outstanding one. She wanted to know if this was something that was scientifically needed to manage grassland birds. She felt that the practical decision now for the land and water registration was good, but she was thinking in the long-term.
Scott stated that the long-term management goals are for the management of the grassland birds, but any plans to dedicate the area as a nature preserve are not known at this time.
Chair Fraker asked if hunting was an issue at either site.
Scott stated that hunting is not allowed at either site. The land and water reserve registration is requested primarily because of the flexibility allowed for management.
Bruce Boyd stated that this site was initially a preserve for prairie chickens, but now there are dozens of rare and threatened grassland birds there. TNC has a very sophisticated planning process that is employed nationwide. The country has been divided into ecological regions. This site is in the central tallgrass prairie ecological region. The plan was completed for the central tallgrass prairie ecological region and this site was identified as a priority site within that region. TNC is pleased to submit the Prairie Ridge site as a land and water reserve.
Bruce stated that on May 1, 2000, TNC announced the acquisition of 7,500 acres along the Illinois River, across the river from Havana. This area was historically one of the richest wetlands in the entire midwest. This site may be a nature preserve or land and water reserve at some point in the future. He felt this was an exciting development for the conservation community in Illinois.
The Commissioners congratulated Bruce and TNC on this monumental effort.
Commissioner Schwegman stated that he agreed with the Department that Prairie Ridge should be a land and water reserve rather than a nature preserve because of the intense management that goes on. He stated that he has visited the site, and he saw one of the wetlands that were being developed.
Commissioner Schneiderman stated that there is a signed registration agreement in which IDNR grants to the INPC certain rights in perpetuity. He did not understand what the value was of that grant. He felt that it takes up a lot of space, but it does not really give INPC anything. If we really wanted to get some additional protection, the grant should be given to somebody else or something else. Granting IDNR's rights to itself probably does not have any meaning at all.
Carolyn Grosboll stated that the INPC is separate from the Department in that it has authority regarding how a protected area is managed. There is a management component that ensures that proper management will be done.
Commissioner Schneiderman stated that if the INPC was not completely subject to the authority of the Department, he would agree with Carolyn, but it is. The Director of the INPC, the employees, and the budget is subject to the authority of the Department. He said he would vote for Items 9 and 10 to get the registration, but some investigation should be done to determine whether there needs to be a statute change to see if this process is meaningful or whether a more meaningful grant to somebody could be invoked here because he is troubled by what he believes is a document which is essentially meaningless. So much that is important to us depends on a document that has this kind of goofy look to it, and he was worried about that.
Chair Fraker asked Commissioner Schneiderman if there was anything more that we, as a Commission, could do other than approve this under the existing law. If there was nothing more that we could do, why not at least do this.
Commissioner Schneiderman stated that he was for this registration. The act of registration is independent of the registration agreement. The statute talks about registration, and we are going to do that. We will get all the statutory value for that, but someone thinks that there is additional value in having an agreement with all of these terms which is very much like the agreement that we use for private landowners. He felt that in the context of the State granting this to the State, that is a sufficiently peculiar looking legal act. He was concerned that it does not give all the extra benefit that one would think one was getting by having this agreement. He felt that a law change would help.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated that she felt this agreement was odd also. Although the Commission is subject to the Department's authority, she felt the Commission adds a level of independence, or at least provides a bully pulpit for the public to speak. She felt that independence was valuable and that the public speaks through the Commission and to the Commission. Progress has been made since the 1960's and early 1970's in the conservation area because environmental issues were being discussed in public. Despite any concerns, she is in favor of the registration of these sites as a land and water reserve. She would be interested in talking with representatives of TNC about the long-term goals and management of these grasslands.
It was moved by Ellis, seconded by Allread, and carried, with Fraker and Nevling abstaining, that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval for the registration of Prairie Ridge in Jasper and Marion Counties, as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 10 of the Agenda for the 167th Meeting.
Chair Fraker thanked Scott for his presentation, and he thanked Bruce Boyd for his remarks.
167-11) Mason Co. - Speckman - Stelter Woods Land and Water Reserve, Registration
Carolyn Grosboll stated that the copy of the registration agreement was not included in the Agenda packet but was provided to each Commissioner today. The landowner has signed and executed the agreement.
Tom Lerczak presented a proposal for registration of Speckman - Stelter Woods as a land and water reserve. Speckman - Stelter Woods, near Havana, is owned by Irma Stelter. The proposed Reserve is an approximately 42.3-acre tract of Grade C woodlands, 13 acres of which are recognized as a portion of White Oak Creek Woods Natural Area (INAI #126). Speckman - Stelter Woods is the best example of the dry sand forest natural community with a white oak (Quercus alba) component within the Illinois River Section of the Illinois River and Mississippi River Sand Areas Natural Division. Black oak (Quercus velutina) is dominant throughout the woods. Though portions of the woods were selectively logged as recently as the 1980's, old-growth characteristics are still in place, and will become more evident with time and restoration management. Also, the proposed Reserve possesses additional ecological importance because of its location along the wooded Illinois River bluffs, which function as a wooded flyway for migrating songbirds through the highly agricultural and urbanized landscape of central Illinois. Irma Stelter and family (husband, Julius and daughters, Diane and Donna) and the INPC staff recommend registration of Speckman-Stelter Woods as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve.
The Stelters wish to allow a hired landscape worker to remove one tree per year, not an oak or hickory, as payment for mowing their yard. This tree will be strategically chosen to help support restoration management goals. Non-hazardous standing dead timber and fallen logs will be retained for their wildlife values. In the event of widespread, catastrophic wind damage, the Stelters wish to retain the option of salvaging timber, perhaps for sale. An easement road exists across the proposed reserve. The road may be maintained only as a one-lane sand road, and it may not be widened or paved. A dump on the property will be removed at some future time. The removal may be done using IDNR stewardship funds.
Tom stated that the Stelters appreciate the need for a prescribed burning program, but they have liability concerns. They want the responsibility for consequences of management activities, such as prescribed burning, that is conducted under the direction of staff of INPC and/or IDNR, to rest with the State of Illinois.
It was moved by Ranney, seconded by O'Keefe, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval for the registration of Speckman - Stelter Woods in Mason County, as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 11 of the Agenda for the 167th Meeting.
167-12) McDonough Co. - Nenawakwa Land and Water Reserve, Registration
Angella Moorehouse presented a proposal for registration of Nenawakwa as a land and water reserve. Nenawakwa, owned by Margaret Ovitt and Dr. Edwin Card, is a 142.54-acre degraded savanna in the Galesburg Section of the Western Forest-Prairie Natural Division. The proposed Reserve is located 5 miles southwest of Macomb in McDonough County, Illinois. During the summer of 1999, an immature and a breeding pair of state-endangered Henslow's sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii) were observed within a 10-acre prairie restoration within the northwest portion of Nenawakwa. This site also provides 88 acres of grassland habitat which supports breeding grassland wildlife such as: sedge wren (Cistothorus platensis), dickcissel (Spiza americana), field sparrow (Spizella pusilla), northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus), common yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas), American kestrel (Falco sparverius), eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis), indigo bunting (Passerina cyanea), and meadow fritillary (Clossiana bellona). Although the savanna communities have been disturbed from grazing, timber harvest, and cultivation, remnants of hill prairie and post oak groves remain. The landowners have been actively restoring the site to presettlement savanna conditions since purchasing the site in 1995. Management activities include: prescribed fire, seeding former crop fields to native Illinois eco-type prairie and savanna vegetation, and brush cutting and herbicide treatment to control invasive woody plants.
Commissioner Ranney stated that it is apparent that these landowners have an enthusiasm for the native landscape of Illinois. This type of enthusiasm should be spread beyond this one site, and she wanted to know how the Commission could leverage this enthusiasm.
Angella stated that these landowners will want publicity, and they will spread the message. Margaret is a real promoter of native plants, and she consistently talks about what the INPC does.
It was moved by Nevling, seconded by Ranney, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval for the registration of Nenawakwa in McDonough County, as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 12 of the Agenda for the 167th Meeting.
167-13) McDonough Co. - Addition to Thistle Hills Land and Water Reserve, Registration
Angella Moorehouse presented a proposal for registration of an addition to Thistle Hills Land and Water Reserve. Thistle Hills, owned by Dr. Robert and Alice Henry, was registered as the sixth Illinois Land and Water Reserve. The Reserve protects a substantial population of state-threatened Hill's thistles. The proposed addition to Thistle Hills Reserve includes 53.18 acres and provides breeding habitat for the state-endangered Henslow's sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii). This is one of four known breeding locations for the Henslow's sparrow within a corridor of the LaMoine River watershed, in the central portion of McDonough County. As these birds prefer tallgrass prairie which has not burned for 3-5 years, attempts will be made to coordinate prescribed burning to ensure that suitable breeding habitat is available every year within this corridor. The addition will increase the size of the existing 14.16-acre Reserve to a total of 67.34 acres. This addition consists of woodlands and hill prairies representative of the Galesburg Section of the Western Forest-Prairie Natural Division, prairie restoration, and crop fields. Future plans call for the restoration of crop fields to provide habitat for grassland wildlife.
Angella stated that there is a man-made pond which is approximately an acre in size located within the prairie where the Henslow's sparrow is breeding. The Henrys want the right to fish there, and they would like the right to cross-country ski to reach the pond.
It was moved by Ranney, seconded by Allread, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval for the registration of an addition to Thistle Hills Land and Water Reserve in McDonough County as described in the proposal presented under Item 13 of the Agenda for the 167th Meeting.
A lunch break was taken from 12:20 - 12:50 p.m.
167-14) Wayne Co. - Padgett Pin Oak Woods Land and Water Reserve, Registration
Bob Edgin presented a proposal for registration of Padgett Pin Oak Woods as a land and water reserve. The proposed 158-acre Padgett Pin Oak Woods Land and Water Reserve is owned by James L. and June Padgett. The proposed Reserve contains 86.2 acres of bottomland forest, representative of the Bottomlands Section of the Wabash Border Natural Division, and 71.8 acres of grassland that provide riparian buffer for a nearly one-half mile segment of the Little Wabash River, a biologically significant stream (INAI #1156). Eighty-two species of fish, 47 species of mussels, and 19 species of crustaceans are known from the Little Wabash River drainage. State-endangered species found in the Little Wabash River basin include the little spectacle case mussel (Villosa lienosa), purple lilliput mussel (Toxolasma lividus), pyramid pigtoe mussel (Pleurobema rubrum), and Indiana crayfish (Orconectes indianensis). State-threatened species include the spike mussel (Elliptio dilata) and the redspotted sunfish (Lepomis miniatus). The copperbelly water snake (Nerodia erythrogaster neglecta), a candidate for listing as a federally-endangered species has been observed on the site. Allowable uses include hiking, nature observation and study, photography, scientific research, hunting, fishing, and timber harvests. The landowners are retaining the mineral rights for the area. Timber harvests will be conducted in accordance with an approved forest management plan. The family is requesting that an existing unimproved road, hiking trails, and a primitive camp site be permitted within the reserve.
Bob stated that with the proposed federal listing of the copperbelly water snake in 1993, the coal mining industry in southern Indiana developed a conservation agreement designed to protect habitat for this snake. The agreement was done in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A subsequent agreement was also initiated in Kentucky with the coal industry. There were two main goals for this conservation agreement. One was to provide for protection of the habitat and continued existence of the copperbelly water snake. The other was to provide for sustainable human activity, primarily mining in this case. There are a number of agencies that have signed on to this agreement since that time and IDNR is one of those agencies. There are certain terms of this agreement that public agencies, such as IDNR, agreed to. One was to treat the copperbelly water snake as a protected species when considering applications that would affect the snake. Another was to put a high priority on copperbelly water snake habitat when acquiring lands or establishing leases and easements, and to restore and enhance known or potential copperbelly water snake habitat on lands they own or manage.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if the coal industry in Illinois had signed this agreement, or did it matter.
Bob stated he was not able to answer that. In the agreement involving IDNR, 14 counties in Illinois were affected, and Wayne County was one of them. The copperbelly water snake was observed three weeks ago in the area being proposed for registration.
Bob stated that there is an unimproved road that runs east and west through the northern portion of the property. This road provides not only the Padgett family with access to the Little Wabash River, but it also provides the adjoining landowners to the south and east with their only means of access to their property. The Padgetts have requested that this road remain in its present condition. There is also an existing primitive campsite with a 9' x 12' concrete pad which is covered over with silt and native grasses, and there are some existing hiking trails that have been developed in the upland areas.
The landowners also reserved the mineral rights to the property. Currently, there are no oil leases on the property. This area was on the Agenda for INPC's 166th Meeting, and approximately two days prior to that, the family was approached by an oil producer that wanted to establish an oil lease on the property. Bob stated that in his discussions with the family and with the oil producer, the family has voluntarily agreed to limit the number of active oil wells on the site to four, which is well within the limit that would be established by the oil and gas regulations. The oil producer has agreed that the placement of the wells and associated structures will be done in a way that would do minimal disturbance to the site and would least impact the prairie restorations and prescribed burning that would need to be done to maintain those restorations.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if there were rules for oil and gas wells and if there was some protocol for registering these areas.
Carolyn Grosboll stated that under the prohibited uses section of the rules governing the register of land and water reserves, mineral exploration, mining, or other mineral extraction or earth moving is not allowed on registered areas unless mineral rights are excluded from the registration agreement. In this case, the mineral rights are excluded.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if the Commission has any expertise or any way of working with the landowner regarding the notion of trying to make the activity live with the natural areas objectives.
Randy Heidorn stated that the INPC would call upon the expertise within IDNR, such as Mines and Minerals, the Geological Survey, and the Water Survey.
Randy stated that it is important to understand that when the landowner retains the mineral rights, they are in control of how things are set up.
Don stated that the Commission has obtained major concessions voluntarily from the landowner.
Bob stated that at the present time there is not a signed oil lease on the property. The family is providing the concessions now in case a lease is ever signed.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated that is why it is peculiar that this oil company is a part of this agreement with only the potential of leasing the property. They have signed an agreement even though they do not have a lease to drill for oil.
Bob stated that he, the Padgett family, and the oil producer were looking at this agreement as an example to show people on how to do it right. In talking with the oil producer, Bob felt that the producer was sincere in protecting the area. The oil industry in this part of the country is taking a beating, most of it is deserved, but there are ways to do things more environmentally friendly. This message is what all parties are hoping to get out of this agreement.
It was moved by O'Keefe, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval for the registration of Padgett Pin Oak Woods in Wayne County, as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 14 of the Agenda for the 167th Meeting.
167-15) Lake Co. - Brandenburg Lake Island Addition of Buffer to Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve, Dedication
(Actually presented after Item 7)
On behalf of Nancy Brothers, Steven Byers presented a proposal for preliminary approval for the dedication of Brandenburg Lake Island addition of buffer to Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve. The proposed Brandenburg Lake Island addition consists of an undeveloped 23.08-acre island that supports elements of sedge meadow and dry-mesic woodland representative of the Morainal Section of the Northeastern Morainal Natural Division. Both the Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve and Brandenburg Bog addition are considered part of Volo Bog State Natural Area, which is owned by the IDNR. Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve was conferred final approval for dedication at the Commission's 53rd Meeting in October, 1974 (Resolution #352). In 1986, the Commission conferred final approval for the dedication of the 140-acre Brandenburg Bog addition to Pistakee Bog at its 111th Meeting (Resolution #899). More recently, the Commission conferred final approval for dedication of a disjunct 31.47-acre addition to Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve at its 161st Meeting in October 1998 (Resolution #1452). This addition was purchased by the IDNR in 1994 and is also considered part of Volo Bog State Natural Area. Collectively, the 900.69-acre Volo Bog State Natural Area includes three wetland basins (Pistakee Bog, Brandenburg Bog, and Volo Bog) and surrounding uplands. Located within the three wetland basins are seven different high-quality wetland plant communities with over 35 state-listed species recorded. Dedication of this 23.08-acre buffer to Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve will protect existing natural resources on the island and protect Brandenburg Lake and the nearby Brandenburg Bog addition from adverse impacts to aquatic systems typically associated with residential development. Therefore, on behalf of Mrs. Brothers, the INPC staff recommends preliminary approval for dedication of the Brandenburg Island as nature preserve buffer to Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve. In addition, Commission staff would like to acknowledge Donald and Nancy Brothers and their family for their interest in preserving the island and helping to protect the natural resources of the region.
Steven introduced Nancy and Don Brothers and their attorney, Kurt Carlson.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked who owned the lake around the island.
Steven stated that it is probably owned by a series of owners. Only a very small portion of the lake is owned by Nancy and Don Brothers. IDNR owns part of the lake to the west.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated that this is an addition to Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve. She asked who owned Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve.
Steven stated that Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve is owned by IDNR.
It was moved by Schneiderman, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of Brandenburg Lake Island addition of buffer to Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve in Lake County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 15 of the Agenda for the 167th Meeting.
Chair Fraker thanked Nancy and Don Brothers for their dedication of this private land.
167-16) Lake Co. - Addition to Spring Bluff Nature Preserve, Dedication
(Actually presented after Item 14)
On behalf of the Lake County Forest Preserve District (LCFPD) Jim Anderson presented a proposal for preliminary approval for dedication of an addition to Spring Bluff Nature Preserve. Spring Bluff Nature Preserve is a 274-acre site located in Northeastern Illinois and recognized on the INAI (as part of Illinois Dunes North, INAI #1066) for eight different high to very high quality natural communities of three major classifications: prairie, savanna, and wetland. The site received final approval for dedication at the Commission's 135th Meeting in May, 1992 (Resolution #1126). The proposed 11.27-acre addition is contiguous with the western boundary of Spring Bluff Nature Preserve and contains high quality mesic prairie and graminoid fen or seep representative of the Lake Michigan Dunes Section of the Northeastern Morainal Natural Division. Dedication of this addition will increase the acreage of Spring Bluff Nature Preserve from 274 to 285.27 acres. Spring Bluff Nature Preserve is part of an even greater assemblage of natural communities along Lake Michigan that include Illinois Beach (INAI #1083), Illinois Dunes North (INAI #1066), and the Chiwaukee Prairie located in Kenosha County, Wisconsin. Collectively, this area encompasses approximately 2,000 acres and supports over 15 high quality communities including habitat for over 20 state-listed plant species and over 15 state-listed wildlife species. Therefore, on behalf of the LCFPD, the INPC staff recommends preliminary approval for dedication of 11.27 acres as an addition to Spring Bluff Nature Preserve.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated that she, along with the entire Commission, was delighted to have LCFPD making this dedication.
Jim stated that before this area is brought before the INPC for final approval for dedication,
LCFPD Board and committees will have to approve it. The preliminary dedication proposal did not have an opportunity to go to the full LCFPD Board because the Board has not met for the past two months. This property should be brought back to the Commission with the request for final dedication approval at its August meeting.
It was moved by Allread, seconded by Ranney, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of an addition to Spring Bluff Nature Preserve in Lake County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 16 of the Agenda for the 167th Meeting.
Chair Fraker stated that he would also like to say that it means a great deal to the Commission to have the LCFPD bring forth these dedications.
167-17) McHenry Co. - Lindblom Addition to Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve, Dedication
On behalf of Ralph Lindblom, Steven Byers presented a proposal for preliminary approval for dedication of an addition to Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve. The proposed 2.34-acre addition is a privately-owned tract of land that lies adjacent to Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve and is located in McHenry County, Illinois. Both the Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve and the nearby Brandenburg Bog addition are part of Volo Bog State Natural Area, which is owned by the IDNR. Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve was conferred final approval for dedication at the Commission's 53rd Meeting in October, 1974 (Resolution #352). In 1986, the Commission conferred final approval for the dedication of the 140-acre Brandenburg Bog addition to Pistakee Bog at its 111th Meeting (Resolution #899). More recently, the Commission conferred final approval for dedication of a disjunct 31.47-acre addition to Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve at its 161st Meeting in October, 1998 (Resolution #1452). This addition was purchased by the IDNR in 1994 and is also part of Volo Bog State Natural Area. Collectively, the 900.69-acre Volo Bog State Natural Area includes three wetland basins (Pistakee Bog, Brandenburg Bog, and Volo Bog) and surrounding uplands. Located within the three wetland basins are seven different high-quality wetland plant communities representative of the Morainal Section of the Northeastern Morainal Natural Division with over 35 recorded state-listed plant and animal species. The proposed Lindblom Tract addition consists of 2.34 acres of high-quality wetlands identified on the INAI (#983). Dedication of this addition will preserve natural plant communities originally identified on the INAI for Pistakee Bog, enlarge and further protect Pistakee Bog from incompatible land uses, and facilitate management of the entire wetland basin by the IDNR. On behalf of Mr. Lindblom, the INPC staff recommend preliminary approval for dedication of this 2.34-acre addition and wish to acknowledge Mr. Lindblom's interest in protecting the unique wetland resources of Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve.
Commissioner Ranney noted that there is a stable near this site and wanted to know where these people ride.
Steven stated that most of the riding occurs inside an arena, but they do have some outdoor riding arenas just to the east of the barn. He said that he has made it clear that the dedication will prohibit them from riding in the nature preserve, and they understand this.
Steven stated that Ralph and Midge are the owners of the equestrian stable, Overlook Farms, Incorporated. It consists of a stable complex. Ralph was found to be in violation of the Clean Water Act as it relates to wetlands. Steven stated that he worked closely with the Chicago District Office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to work out a solution to the violation. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers strongly suggested to Ralph that, in exchange for some wetland violations that occurred in the wetland basin to the east of the stable, that he and Midge take some action to protect 2.34 acres that were identified in the INAI as part of Pistakee Bog. They now understand the significance of Pistakee Bog. They wrote to Steven to tell him that they very much appreciated the proposal that was prepared on their behalf. They also stated that they were not aware of some of the natural resources in the region, aside from the tamarack that they see. They were not aware of the rich variety and diversity of life that extends beyond their stable complex.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if the Corps of Engineers knew that this was on the INAI before talking with them, and how did the District become aware of this.
Steven stated that he has made it his job to make sure that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers get updated information on the distribution of the INAI sites, and that he works closely with its respective staff in each of the different counties in northeastern Illinois.
It was moved by Nevling, seconded by Ranney, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of Lindblom Addition to Pistakee Bog Nature Preserve in McHenry County as described in the proposal presented under Item 17 of the Agenda for the 167th Meeting.
Chair Fraker asked Steven to convey the Commission's gratitude to the Lindbloms.
Steven stated that he has been instructed by the Lindbloms to move this along as quickly as possible, so he will be bringing this area back for final approval for dedication at the 168th Meeting of the INPC. He would also be happy to write a letter to Mike Machalek, Enforcement Officer with the Corps of Engineers.
167-18) Kane Co. - Addition of Nature Preserve and Nature Preserve Buffer to Sleepy Hollow Ravine Nature Preserve, Dedication
On behalf of the Forest Preserve District of Kane County (FPDKC), Steven Byers presented a proposal for final dedication of an addition of nature preserve and nature preserve buffer to Sleepy Hollow Ravine Nature Preserve. The FPDKC wishes to dedicate Lot 3 (1.28 acres) as nature preserve buffer and Lot 4 (3.02 acres) as an addition to Sleepy Hollow Ravine Nature Preserve. Both lots are part of the Randall Point Executive Center II Subdivision, in the City of Elgin, Kane County, Illinois, and located within the INAI boundary for Sleepy Hollow Ravine. Lot 4 still retains its natural features and was granted preliminary approval for dedication as nature preserve while the natural features of Lot 3 have been damaged and was granted preliminary approval as nature preserve buffer at the Commission's 165th Meeting in October,1999 (Resolution #1508). Sleepy Hollow Ravine was initially included on the INAI (#624) in recognition for high-quality seep and mesic upland forest communities, representative of the Morainal Section of the Northeastern Morainal Natural Division, surviving within the ravine and barrens located atop either side of the ravine. The 7.4-acre Sleepy Hollow Ravine Nature Preserve, privately owned by Mr. Glen Spiegler, was granted preliminary approval for dedication at the Commission's 156th Meeting in August, 1997 (Resolution #1386) with final dedication granted in May, 1998, at the Commission's 159th Meeting (Resolution #1415). On behalf of the FPDKC and the Fox Valley Land Foundation, INPC staff recommends final approval for dedication of Lot 4 (3.02 acres) as nature preserve and Lot 3 (1.28 acres) as nature preserve buffer. Dedication of these lots will preserve surviving high quality mesic upland forest, increase the size of Sleepy Hollow Ravine Nature Preserve from 7.2 acres to 11.5 acres, and protect the ravine from changes in surface hydrology.
Day Waterman, Fox Valley Land Foundation, thanked the Commission for the opportunity
to speak. She stated that this project is a model for other collaborative efforts. Approximately $1 million was needed to be raised to compensate the developer for the cost of the land. In order to make his office space development work financially, the developer needed to be compensated for this parcel. The developer came to Steven Byers and wanted to know if the Fox Valley Land Foundation could help him. Through much discussion, the City of Elgin got involved and contributed some funding. The Kane County Board was also involved. Subsequently, the FPDKC agreed to accept title to the property. The Grand Victoria Foundation accepted a grant proposal that the Fox Valley Land Foundation wrote, and they agreed to contribute some money. The original land owner, Mr. Barancik, contributed $100,000 because the deal would not have gone through without that. All of these different parties had different thoughts in mind. It helped Elgin to reduce the curb cut and the stop light they would have had to install if the development was bigger. She stated that $175,000 was being put toward creation and restoration of the buffer and the natural area. The developer, Mr. Richard Panichi, was responsible for spearheading this concept. He hired a restoration company and did all the clearing. There are no more basswood or maple trees on this property. It will be interesting to see what happens to the plant list. She said that she recently added 16 spring wildflowers to the plant list. They will continue to seed and plant. She spoke with a neighbor upstream from this site, Joe Nitch, and he will be contacting Steven about the possibility of adding to this site.
Chair Fraker thanked Day for her comments. In this day and age of more and more urbanization and sprawl, this kind of creativity is going to be more and more necessary.
Steven stated that this project would not have been possible without Day's effort and persistence in making this happen.
It was moved by Schneiderman, seconded by O'Keefe, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of an addition of nature preserve and nature preserve buffer to Sleepy Hollow Ravine Nature Preserve in Kane County as described in the proposal presented under Item 18 of the Agenda for the 167th Meeting.
167-19) Macoupin Co. - Roderick Prairie Nature Preserve, Dedication
Tom Lerczak presented a proposal for final dedication of Roderick Prairie Nature Preseve. Roderick Prairie, near Carlinville, is owned by Don and Trish Roderick. The proposed 6-acre Preserve includes Roderick Barrens Natural Area (INAI #1561) plus adjacent woodlands. Healthy populations of the state-threatened prairie trout lily (Erythronium mesochoreum) and state-endangered large ground plum (Astragalus crassicarpus var. trichocalyx) are present within a high diversity barrens community, a once common but now rare natural community of the Carlinville Section of the Western Forest-Prairie Natural Division. Preliminary approval as a dedicated Illinois Nature Preserve was conferred at the 166th INPC Meeting (Resolution #1519). The INPC staff recommends final approval for dedication of the 6-acre Roderick Prairie as an Illinois Nature Preserve.
It was moved by Schwegman, seconded by O'Keefe, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of Roderick Prairie Nature Preserve in Macoupin County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 19 of the Agenda for the 167th Meeting.
Chair Fraker asked Tom to express the Commission's gratitude to the Rodericks.
167-20) McHenry Co. - Carol and Lydia & Tom and Brandon Addition to Boone Creek Fen Nature Preserve, Dedication
Steven Byers presented a proposal for final dedication of Carol and Lydia & Tom and Brandon Addition to Boone Creek Fen Nature Preserve. The INPC conferred preliminary approval for dedication of this addition to Boone Creek Fen Nature Preserve at its 159th Meeting in May, 1998 (Resolution #1412). At that time, the site was owned by Randy and Laurie Wittman. Since then, Tom and Carol O'Donnell purchased the property from the Wittmans in an effort to protect Boone Creek Fen from surrounding aggressive land development. At this time, Tom and Carol O'Donnell wish to proceed with final dedication of 2.43 acres as an addition to Boone Creek Fen Nature Preserve. The addition includes graminoid fen and sedge meadow communities, representative of the Morainal Section of the Northeastern Morainal Natural Division, identified on the INAI and an upland buffer consisting of dry-mesic savanna. Boone Creek Fen was identified on the INAI (#1015) and was granted final approval for dedication at the Commission's 156th Meeting in August, 1997 (Resolution #1376). A key element of the proposal for dedication of Boone Creek Fen called for efforts "...to assemble a much larger preserve...and...encompass much of the adjacent uplands." The INPC staff, along with Tom and Carol O'Donnell, seek final approval for dedication of 2.43 acres as an addition to Boone Creek Fen Nature Preserve.
Steven stated that Carol and Tom O'Donnell have been inspirational leaders in efforts to protect a larger area of Boone Creek valley. They recently hosted an event that brought additional attention to the efforts to protect those resources.
Chair Fraker asked Steven to convey the Commission's gratitude to Carol and Tom O'Donnell.
It was moved by Nevling, seconded by Ranney, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of Carol and Lydia & Tom and Brandon Addition to Boone Creek Fen Nature Preserve in McHenry County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 20 of the Agenda for the 167th Meeting.
167-21) McHenry Co. - Gene and Katharine Barnes Addition of Nature Preserve and Nature Preserve Buffer to Elizabeth Lake Nature Preserve, Dedication
On behalf of Mrs. Katharine Barnes, Steven Byers presented a proposal for final dedication of 39.73 acres of adjacent uplands as the Gene and Katharine Barnes Addition of nature preserve and nature preserve buffer to Elizabeth Lake Nature Preserve. Of that total, 11.4 acres are proposed for dedication as nature preserve, while the balance (28.33 acres) is proposed for dedication as nature preserve buffer. Elizabeth Lake is a 172.6-acre nature preserve that is owned by the McHenry County Conservation District (MCCD). Elizabeth Lake was included on the INAI (#1014) in recognition of extant high-quality wetland communities (pond, marsh, graminoid bog, graminoid fen, and calcareous floating mat), representative of the Morainal Section of the Northeastern Morainal Natural Division. Nine state-listed plant species occur at the site. The MCCD Natural Areas Inventory, published in 1998, recognizes extant high-quality sedge meadow wetland communities and reveals the presence of 10 state-listed animal species. The INPC conferred final approval for dedication of Elizabeth Lake Nature Preserve (115.8 acres) at its 102nd Meeting in January, 1985 (Resolution #829). In May, 1988, at its 118th Meeting, the Commission conferred final approval for a 56.8-acre addition (Resolution #970). At the Commission's 166th Meeting, February, 2000, preliminary approval was granted for the Gene and Katharine Barnes Addition to Elizabeth Lake Nature Preserve (Resolution #1520). On behalf of Mrs. Katharine Barnes, the staff of the INPC recommends final dedication be granted for this 39.73-acre tract known as the Gene and Katharine Barnes Addition to Elizabeth Lake Nature Preserve. Dedication of this addition will protect mature oak woodlands and important groundwater recharge zones for the groundwater dependent wetlands surviving in Elizabeth Lake Nature Preserve and increase the area preserved from 172.6 acres to 212.3 acres.
Steven introduced Katharine Barnes and Ray Eisbrener, a District Wildlife Biologist with IDNR.
Ray Eisbrener stated that he has known Katharine Barnes for approximately 12 years. He stated that he was very humble to be here today to speak on Katharine's behalf. Private ownership of land is not really an option for Native Americans. They do not consider this as something that they would own personally. This type of thinking seems very simple in today's world. It is almost a dream world type of philosophy of the Native American, especially in the affluent society we have today. Among the few of us, there are some visionaries. We see a generosity here that is difficult to understand by today's "me" generation. Mrs. Barnes possesses this vision. She has a vision to look back at the Native American philosophy. She also has a vision to look forward and see a better future for all of us. We are well aware of how fast urban sprawl is moving throughout Illinois, and he thanked God that there are heros like Mrs. Barnes who are around to help us and our children from losing their contact with the natural world. He stated that he was honored to know Mrs. Barnes, and he was thankful to call her his friend.
Steven thanked Ray for his moving remarks, and he thanked Katharine, on behalf of the Commission.
It was moved by Schneiderman, seconded by O'Keefe, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of Gene and Katharine Barnes Addition of nature preserve and nature preserve buffer to Elizabeth Land Nature Preserve in McHenry County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 21 of the Agenda for the 167th Meeting.
Chair Fraker stated that he wanted to repeat how wonderful it is to have gifts of this great generosity, and it really makes the work of the Commission significant because of people like Katharine Barnes.
167-22) McHenry Co. - Lake Defiance Addition to Kettle Moraine Nature Preserve, Dedication
On behalf of the IDNR, Steven Byers presented a proposal for final dedication of Lake Defiance Addition to Kettle Moraine Nature Preserve. This 53-acre addition lies within the boundaries of the INAI for Kettle Moraine Nature Preserve (INAI#1012) which was recognized for extant high-quality calcareous floating mat, graminoid fen, low shrub bog, marsh, pond, and sedge meadow communities, representative of the Morainal Section of the Northeastern Morainal Natural Division. In addition, the INAI recorded 22 Category II (state-listed) species. Kettle Moraine Nature Preserve and the Lake Defiance addition are located within Moraine Hills State Park. Kettle Moraine Nature Preserve was granted preliminary approval for dedication at the Commission's 50th Meeting in January, 1974 (Resolution #321) and final approval was granted at the Commission's 53rd Meeting in October, 1974 (Resolution #350). In October, 1997, preliminary approval was granted for a 5-acre buffer, known as Robert's Marsh, to Kettle Moraine Nature Preserve. The Lake Defiance Addition to Kettle Moraine Nature Preserve received preliminary approval for dedication at the Commission's 166th Meeting this past February, 2000 (Resolution #1521). Preservation of this addition is consistent with good preserve design recommendations, will allow the IDNR to manage the wetland basin as one unit, preserve wetland resources considered of state-wide ecological significance, and will protect the wetland from incompatible land uses. Therefore, staff of both the INPC and the IDNR are pleased to recommend final approval for dedication of the 53-acre Lake Defiance addition to Kettle Moraine Nature Preserve.
Steven acknowledged the support that the Commission receives from Loretta Arient and the staff of Moraine Hills State Park.
It was moved by Schwegman, seconded by Schneiderman, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of Lake Defiance Addition to Kettle Moraine Nature Preserve in McHenry County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 22 of the Agenda for the 167th Meeting.
Chair Fraker stated that one of the nice things about serving on this Commission is working with the staff who have a strong commitment. It is an inspiration to us on the Commission. Sometimes people do this for a long time, including Loretta Arient who has been serving IDNR and the Nature Preserves Commission for 20 years.
A plaque was presented to Loretta. Chair Fraker read the plaque inscription, "From the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, in recognition of and appreciation of 20 years of loyal and outstanding service to both the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission presented to Loretta E. Arient, May of 2000."
167-23) Lake Co. - Illinois Beach Nature Preserve and North Dunes Nature Preserve - Update on Asbestos Investigations and Remediation
Randy Heidorn updated the Commission on the Illinois Beach asbestos issue. There is a road along the southern end of Illinois Beach Nature Preserve that, prior to the acquisition by IDNR, was constructed on a base made out of asbestos containing material. Discussions continue with IEPA, U.S. EPA, the Attorney General's office, IDNR, and Illinois Department of Public Health to determine how this area is going to be remediated. The discussions continue, and the thoughts are heading toward removing the material as it comes to the surface with the frost heave which will leave the natural community that has grown over the last 40-50 years in place. The area is restricted from the public, and it is in a remote location of the park.
In a closely related issue, there is a proposal to dispose of Waukegan Harbor dredge material within a settling basin on the Johns Manville site located south of Illinois Beach Nature Preserve. The concern is whether or not this type of landfill operation at the site could have an adverse impact on the Nature Preserve. The Citizen's Advisory Group (CAG) of the Waukegan Harbor project contracted, through the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, with a private company to do a study to look at the fate and transport models of the materials that would be placed in that basin. That report was presented to IDNR, and Dr. Brian Anderson organized a group to review the report. Members of the group were comprised of Commission staff, Natural History Survey staff, Water Survey staff, Geological Survey staff, and Waste Management Research Center staff. The general consensus was that there was not enough information to determine whether or not the dredge spoils would cause a problem at the Nature Preserve. There were several flaws in the study. The concerns and flaws have been communicated to the CAG through a letter from Dr. Brian Anderson. A meeting has been scheduled in the next month to sit down with the CAG's consultants and review the inadequacies in the report.
167-24) Public Comment Period (3 minutes per person)
Victor Guarino stated that he lives in Oak Park, Illinois. He is here with his wife, Jean. They are stewards of a preserve in River Forest, in Cook County. This site is owned by the FPDCC. He stated that he is here to request that the INPC grant a preliminary hearing on a proposal for dedication as an Illinois Nature Preserve of Thatcher, G.A.R. and Thomas Jefferson Woods in River Forest, Illinois, which are holdings of the FPDCC. In 1992, a written proposal was prepared for the FPDCC and the INPC by scientists from the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois. However, the FPDCC did not submit this proposal to the Commission for action at that time. This extensive forested habitat, straddling the Des Plaines River for two miles and just 10 miles west of downtown Chicago, has been under restoration plans supported by the FPDCC and the Thatcher Woods Savanna Restoration Project for the past 10 years. During this period, an in-depth knowledge of the natural character and history of the area has been acquired. There is also a growing interest, appreciation, and support for the efforts to protect this natural habitat by residents of the surrounding communities. He stated that he lives a mile and a half from this area. He felt that the time had come to present this proposal, with updated material, to the Commission. Within the past three years, two proposals have been submitted to the FPDCC, that if implemented, would have further fragmented the area and reduced its integrity. The first was a proposal by the Village of River Forest. It was a plan to enhance the Village's recreational amenities by seeking federal surface transportation funds to construct paved bike trails through the preserves, including bridges across the river and causeways along the high-quality floodplain forest. He stated that an alternative route for the bike trail has been proposed along the periphery of the site, along Thatcher Avenue. The second, and most recent, was an attempt by the Dominican University to acquire 3-4 acres of the preserve to enhance its athletic fields with a new baseball diamond and soccer field. Both of these proposals have been put to rest. Opposing these attempts to further fragment this rare and beautiful area, resulted in an expenditure of a tremendous amount of time and energy on the part of stewards, volunteers, and concerned citizens. This was time and energy lost in managing the preserve. This area has unique ecological landscapes located along an ancient river surrounded by urbanization and provides an area of serenity and tranquility in all seasons. He stated that this unique natural area of high floristic quality and diversity of ecological landscapes deserves the recognition and protection that the designation of an Illinois Nature Preserve offers. They, therefore, submit herewith the original 1992 proposal for dedication of Thatcher, G.A.R. and Jefferson Woods, in Cook County, Illinois, as an Illinois Nature Preserve. The following updates were also included in this proposal: native plant species list with floristic quality index computation; Thatcher plant species list with distribution and management recommendations by Dr. Dennis Nyberg, University of Illinois, Chicago; Thatcher nesting birds found from 1993 to 1996 by Christine and Stephen Lee, Chicago Audubon Society; additions to endangered, threatened, and rare species that are contained on page 6 of the 1992 proposal which include Trillium cernuum rediscovered in Thatcher Woods in 1995 by FPDCC naturalist, Tom Hintz. Additional references on history and restoration activities are also included in this packet. These references included a paper presented to the Midwest Oak Savanna Conference in 1993, and a recent article in the local newspaper, The Wednesday Journal, with an interview with Mr. Guarino. Also included is a copy of the nature preserve petition with 139 signatures of area residents who gathered on Earth Day 2000 at Thatcher Woods. He presented this documentation to the Commission for its consideration.
Chair Fraker thanked him for his presentation and commitment. He also stated that the Commission appreciates the work that stewards do on the sites because the sites would not be there if not for the stewards, however, proposals for dedications originate with the landowner.
Mr. Guarino stated that he has a good relationship with the superintendent of FPDCC, and the superintendent has been informed of this presentation.
Chair Fraker stated that the Commission will pursue this, but ultimately it will be the FPDCC's decision to request preliminary approval for dedication of this site.
Mr. Guarino stated that he understood that, and he was hoping this presentation would move this issue along.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked Mr. Guarino if he has met resistance with the FPDCC.
Mr. Guarino stated that he does not understand why the original proposal was never submitted. He was told that the FPDCC wanted more restoration. There are over 300 acres along the river that have never been grazed or plowed. It was purchased directly by the original residents of River Forest from the federal government. Subsequently their heirs sold it to the FPDCC.
Steven Byers stated that some of the projects that Mr. Guarino mentioned were ones that Commission staff did work behind the scenes to make Joe Nevius, General Superintendent of the FPDCC, aware of the significance of this site. Steven stated that he has met several times with Joe and members of the FPDCC Board to discuss opportunities for dedication of sites the District owns. At this point, dedication has not been a priority for the FPDCC. With this documentation and the Commission's direction, he will take this back to Mr. Nevius for his consideration.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if this was an INAI site.
Steven stated that the area was not an INAI site, but it may easily qualify for registration as a land and water reserve. He also said that it may now qualify for dedication as a nature preserve because there are state-listed species that have recently been recorded from that site. On the basis of that and the significance of its large size, he felt it would qualify for one of the land protection tools that are available through the INPC.
Chair Fraker stated that it may help to have a resolution from the INPC encouraging the FPDCC to review the possibilities of the appropriateness of this site for either registration or dedication.
It was moved by O'Keefe, seconded by Ranney, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Illinois Nature Preserves Commission encourages the Forest Preserve District of Cook County to review the possibilities of the appropriateness of Thatcher, G.A.R. and Thomas Jefferson Woods in River Forest, Illinois for either registration as a land and water reserve or dedication as a nature preserve.
Lenore Beyer-Clow, Executive Director of the McHenry County Defenders asked to speak to the Commission. She stated she represented a local grassroots environmental citizen organization in McHenry County. She said that she was glad to see that the Commission was in McHenry County for their meeting and that the Commission recognized the value of the land that is here which is quickly being overtaken by growth and development. The appreciation for the preservation of this land is illustrated in the number of properties that were submitted for dedication today. She wanted to thank the Commission for the attention to these properties. In addition, she wanted to encourage the Commission's participation and attention to protect Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve. She hoped that the Commission would keep the Defenders apprized of everything that is happening.
Ms. Beyer-Clow also offered any education or advocacy assistance at the local level that the McHenry County Defenders could provide to help the Commission do its job.
Chair Fraker thanked Ms. Beyer-Clow and her organization for all the work they are doing in the community. He noted that the Commission's first exposure to the Lake in the Hills Fen battle was at a meeting at Illinois Beach State Park. The McHenry County Defenders were well represented at that meeting and provided invaluable background information. That information helped the Commission do its job.
Al Wilson thanked the Commission for all its help at Lake in the Hills Fen. He stated that some of the Commissioners may not have been in this area for many years, and they may be appalled at the amount of development that has gone on. He has lived there for 14 years, and the Village has gone from a population of under 5,000 to around 20,000. He stated that if the land is not acquired now, it will be lost. Land acquisition is a high priority with the McHenry County Conservation District, and they are trying to get bonds for more land acquisition organized. Unfortunately, along with the acquisition of the land, comes the threat to that land. The Commission has been so helpful, and he was thankful for that. The threats continue, and the Commission is aware of some of them. He hopes these issues can be resolved, particularly with the Village; thanks to Keith Shank of IDNR and Jim Miner of the Geological Survey, they are moving ahead with trying to control their Village. It takes a lot of energy and money, but Mr. Wilson is one of these people that is not stubborn; he is just determined. He is determined that the Village will not damage the nature preserve.
Mr. Wilson invited everyone to look at the display of Lake in the Hills Fen that he brought. It has been on display at the local library for the last month, and it is used at all the monthly nature walks at the Fen that are given. It is also taken when they do presentations at schools. Walks through Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve are also offered for organized groups. He stated that a walk for the blind was done. Ten visually impaired people with five tour guides took a short tour through the Nature Preserve. This tour usually takes 45 minutes. The tour started at 5:00 p.m, and at 7:20 p.m. they were still on the trail and it was getting dark. Everyone had a fabulous time. More recently they had 51 fourth grade children from a Mt. Prospect school tour the Nature Preserve. This was organized by Al's wife and another volunteer. As they got off the bus, every child was told that this land was previously Indian country. The Indians did not have a written language, and everything had to be passed by word of mouth. Each child was given a zip-lock bag, and they were told that while out on the trail, they would be given something to put in that bag. They were to take it home along with the story that they would be told and pass it on to their parents. Their parents should write it down so it could be taken back to school the next day to their teacher. They were given a pod of a common milk weed, and it was full of fluff. They were told that this fluff was used in the past to fill life jackets. This plant saved lives. A few days later the teacher was asked how it went. They were told that they wanted to come back that next week. He stated that doing this type of work was their reward. When Steven Byers is successful in getting the adjoining property dedicated, they will probably have one-third of all the calcareous and graminoid fens in the State within that preserved area.
Chair Fraker thanked Mr. Wilson for his comments.
167-25) Other Business
There was no other business.
It was moved by O'Keefe, seconded by Schneiderman, and unanimously approved to adjourn. The meeting was adjourned at 2:15 p.m.